Chocolate City is one of the leading record labels in Nigeria. It has 13 artists currently signed to the music group and recently, Tush Magazine’s Winifred Ononikpo caught up with one of the new kids signed to the label, DICE AILES for an interview where he covered answers to questions about his Chocolate City signing, music career, schooling and of course, his relationship status. Enjoy.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
Dice: My name is Dice Ailes aka Mr. Miyagi, my real name is Shasha Damilola Alesh. My mom is Ghanaian while my dad is Nigerian. I’m based in Canada Toronto; I’m a student of New York University currently in my final year and I’m signed to Chocolate City as an artist.
Tell us about your music background; how it all started and when you realized you wanted to be one of the big shots in the industry.
Dice: I’ve always done music all my life. I know it’s pretty much cliché, everyone says that; but at the age of 8 or 9 I started writing poems and I had uncles were songwriters at that time and I just wanted to be part of what they were doing. I found it quite fascinating how they could, make up melodies and lyrics and all that stuff and I just wanted to do what they were doing. That’s how it all started for me. The passion for music just grew and so, there was never a point I decided to do music; I’ve just always been involved with music.
So it’s kind of innate; you were almost born with it.
Dice: Yeah, pretty much.
What genre of music do you specialize in?
Dice: I’m a pretty versatile artist. I don’t have a specific genre. I started off rapping, then as I grew up it sort of just graduated to a lot of different stuff. So right now, I just do Afro-pop, RnB; you know what I’m saying, I just mix everything up.
How did you land your Chocolate City signing?
Dice: I came to Nigeria from Canada in 2013 to push a song called YEMISI and just to familiarize myself with the industry and meet people here. While I was here, somehow I got to meet with M.I through a mutual friend; his name is Frank De Nero. So he was coming over to M.I’s house to record a song and I just tagged along. When we got there we played M.I some of my songs and he was like “damn I think he can make it big”. Then the next day we had a meeting with Audu Maikori and that’s how it all started.
So far, what has the experience been like?
Dice: It’s been great. When I was younger I used to listen to the Choc Boys; M.I, Ice Prince and all of them. So it just feels good to be one of them now and have people call me a “Choc Boy” (smiles).
That must feel really good.
Earlier you said you’re in your final year at NYU. Did you put school on hold to pursue your music career?
Dice: Yeah, I actually had to do that. I was trying to finish online but it was so much of a task for me because I was too busy doing interviews, performing and all that stuff. So it was taking all the time I needed for school.
So you kind of deferred for now?
Dice: Yeah, but I’m finishing this year though.
Okay, how did your parents react to the decision to take a break from school? Were they supportive?
Dice: My mom used to be in a choir so she loves music, my dad loves music too. At the time I decided to defer they were quite supportive and then at some point, they flipped on me and asked me to come back to Canada… but for the most part they’ve been really supportive.
So your parents and whole family are based in Canada?
Dice: Yeah, the whole family is in Canada.
So you didn’t have that whole trouble of Nigerian parents with Nigerian mentality of finish school first?
Dice: Naah, my dad is very Nigerian. My mom is Ghanaian but she grew up in Nigeria too so they’re African. They have that African mentality.
I know, but did they bug you? Nigerian parents can be very deep.
Dice: Well my dad wants me to finish school, my mom too; they want me to finish. But I’m doing well in my academics, it’s not like I’m failing or anything. I have about 3 courses to go so they’re like school can wait for a little bit, do what you gotta do.
Oh okay. What are you studying in school?
Dice: Health and Society. I am doing that as a pre-med to go into Med School.
Are you still going to med school?
Dice: Um, hopefully.
So now music is distracting you from going to med school?
Dice: Not really. I mean, music is medicine for the soul, so I’m still practicing medicine to heal… (general laughter) to heal the soul.
Seeing how young you are, will you in any way ever consider yourself an over-achiever?
Dice: An over-achiever? No, like I’m hardly ever comfortable with the things that I achieve. I feel like I’ve not achieved enough, even with everything I have achieved. So whether I’m young or not, I know people have done more things than I have at my age.
I won’t lie to you, you look better in person than your Instagram pictures.
Dice: Oh really?
Yeah, it just popped into my head. So how do you handle attention from female fans, admirers and all?
You know, shortly before you came in someone was gisting me about how you went somewhere for an interview and one of the junior writers had a mad crush on you and she could not even stay in the room. She was all smiles and bashful. So how do you handle situations like that? You know when people are screaming and excited like “Dice, oh my God!!”
Dice: (Laughs) I mean, I’m receptive towards it. It just shows me I’m doing something good and I embrace it. That’s
a sign of appreciation.
I’m not talking about your music now. I’m talking about your face.
Dice: (Laughs) Oh it’s about my face now? Oh mehn, I don’t know mehn, I’m just thankful to my mom and dad for giving me this face (laughs some more). Shout out to the females though, I just love them.
Okay we appreciate it. So are you dropping an album soon?
Dice: For now we’re just dropping singles.
Are you compiling an album?
Dice: I have enough songs for like 10 albums already.
So what are you waiting for?
Dice: There has to be a high demand for the album. So far I’ve been focusing on school but now I’m here trying to push the music.
Alright. So did you hear about the “seize the bae” movement in 2015? It was kind of a Twitter buzz. You use Twitter yeah?
Dice: I’m not big on Twitter but naah, never heard about it.
I’m not big on Twitter either but I knew about it.
Dice: Really? Nah, that means I’m worse.
Okay it was basically use any means (Twitter DM mainly) to reach out to someone and tell them you like them.
Dice: Oh really? Is it
still going on?
Yeah, I think so. They brought it to 2016. It was kind of a thing then. So you didn’t hear about it?
Dice: Naah, but what if I had heard about it?
I would have asked if you successfully seized any bae.
Dice: To dive into people’s DMs…
Not necessarily dive but to just start a friendship that will lead to a relationship.
Dice: these days, I can’t even dive into people’s DMs no more because last time I tried it, she tweeted that I just messaged her. Like twice now so I think I’m done with trying to dive into DMs (laughs).
So are you in a relationship?
Dice: No I’m not actually.
Dice: The girls think I’m not good looking enough.
Really? I don’t think so. That’s not what I heard.
Dice: (Laughs) No, I mean, that’s not my major priority right now. I feel like relationships require so much time, like so much devotion, sacrifices; and music is jealous as well. So that’s two things that cannot share. I’ll get there but not right now.
Award wise, how was 2015 for you? Did you bag any?
Dice: In 2015, I won Best Male Artist at the African Entertainment Awards in Canada, then I won Most Fashionable Fast Rising Music Artist at the Lagos Fashion Award. (Rhetorically) And then what else? What else did I win?
So much, you can’t even remember?
Dice: No, no it’s just 2 or 3. But I got some nominations that I didn’t win.
Congrats, it shows you’re being recognized.
Dice: Yes, yes.
I know you have a couple of tracks; Odun De, Telephone etc. But the spotlight is on your latest single, MACHINERY as well as the instructional video for the dance. Any update on when the official video will be released?
Dice: The video for Machinery has been shot already and should be dropping towards the end of the month but I don’t have a specific date right now.
How about future projects? Is there any imminent one you’re working on?
Dice: I have a song with Iyanya coming out soon; it’s for the ladies. It drops February 14th and it’s a remix to an old record by me called Fantasy.
Now that certainly is one reason to look forward to Valentine’s Day this year (general laughter)
Alright Dice, thank you so much for your time. TUSH MAGAZINE wishes you a very fulfilling 2016.
Dice: I wish you guys too. Thank you for your time too.